24 December 2017
Statement from Mo Abbas, President of Leicester Secular Society in response to the Archbishop of Canterbury's recent assertion.
The Archbishop of Canterbury’s claim “ for schools that are not of a religious character, confidence in any personal sense of ultimate values has diminished” is not only wrong, but also worrying.
The claim that a moral system cannot be found without a religious framework needs evidence to support it. One might even argue that practices and beliefs based on religion ( at least some of them) can be considered immoral.
One of the main functions of religion is the social function where it helps members of that religion to develop social identity and in-group solidarity and favouritism. However, what we know from social psychology is that this process leads to a bias towards members of other religions (out-group members) and even prejudice. In certain circumstances, this could lead to violence.
Even if this was not intended, faith schools contribute to the development of this in-group / out-group bias. In that sense, it can contribute to division within the community as a whole and the creation of different moral systems which very often clash.
The answer to these ‘competing narratives’ that the Archbishop refers to in his statement does not lie with faith schools. In fact, faith schools make these competing narratives worse. The answer is to create a value system where everybody , religious or non-religious, is treated equally and fairly. This is the essence of secularism and this is why Leicester Secular Society will always call for an inclusive education system.